I had the opportunity to ask some people with autism about what they want the church to know. I’m thankful that a number of people responded. This is important because I can only speak for myself. I want people to hear other voices. I hope that you will hear these voices and have a greater sense of where people with autism are coming from.
This issue is very close to my heart, so while I know I’ve already commented, I’ll contribute some more. The church is the one place above all else where we should be loved and accepted just as we are. I do not want to be changed, I do not want my kids to be changed. God made us perfect for His purpose. Please do not make assumptions about behavior, from **anyone**. I should not have to disclose my diagnosis to a stranger in order to avoid dirty looks. I should not have to disclose my sons diagnosis to avoid judgement on my parenting. LOVE. That is all I want from my church. The lights on the stage really hurt my eyes. Sometimes I wear sunglasses in the sanctuary and I get dirty looks. It’s not enough to block the bright lights anyway so I stopped wearing them and suffer through it. The shaking hands part of the service is very uncomfortable for me, but I’ll do it. I am terrified of trying new churches because inevitably a pastor will ask us to do something extremely invasive like “turn to your neighbor and hold their hand” or “everybody tell your neighbor …” – Sarah
I’m very much of an introvert on top of the autism so prefer to be able to sit somewhere relatively quiet and out of the public eye. Services with a lot of really loud music and bright lights would be a trial for me even though I like music and lights that a bit more toned down. I believe there needs to be somewhere for us to go when we are feeling overwhelmed..We often do better in small congregations (providing the others are accepting of us). – Carmel
Churches are designed and built to have a massive impact on the senses, to awe and overwhelm, they always have been from the days of choir and stained glass windows lighting up the serf’s beige existence and babbling to him in a language he doesn’t understand. Even still now with things like electronic PA systems and organs. They are literally echo chambers and when full of people the effects are magnified. Not ideal places for the easily overstimulated. – Callam
Thank you Sarah, Carmel and Callam for sharing.